The Bush administration has decided to allow U.S. commercial satellites to be launched on Soviet rockets for the first time, government and industry officials say.
As a result of decisions made at the White House last week, an Australian commercial venture known as the Cape York Space Agency will be permitted to hire a U.S. company to run a base in northern Australia from which Soviet rockets will carry satellites into orbit for customers from around the world, perhaps as early as 1995, the officials said.The project provides a major opportunity for the Soviet Union to expand its international space business and is expected to increase foreign competitive pressures on the U.S. rocket industry.
Domestic rocket companies had opposed letting the Soviet Union provide launching services for U.S. customers, but the satellite makers had favored opening up the market.
Representatives for both groups said the administration's decision seemed evenhanded, since it includes provisions intended to insure that the Soviet Union prices its rockets fairly.
In recent years, the United States has shifted the job of launching privately owned satellites from the government's space agency to aerospace companies.